Market freedoms and private interactions under EU law

Abstract

The Court of Justice of the European Union has ascertained that free movement provisions as enshrined in European Union primary law entail not only mandatory rules prohibiting the creation and/or maintenance of national barriers to trade within the single market, but also subjective rights of economically active individuals to be enforced by national courts. Historically and as a matter of principle, such rights are recognized vis-à-vis Member states only, and therefore they do not deal with legal relationships between private subjects. However, over the course of time the case law of the Court has made apparent that free movement rules can also be of relevance to shape some legal interactions between private parties. This contribution offers an analytical approach to the mechanisms through which this may happen as well as a reflection about the challenges it involves for the composite European legal orders. Such challenges concern, inter alia, the blurring of the traditional boundaries between public, and private law and between competition law and free movement; the development of new forms of administrative action; and the institutional allocation of competences between the Union and the member states, as well as between the legislature and the judiciary.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Case C-265/95 Commission v. France [1997] ECR I-6959, para. 30.

  2. 2.

    Baquero Cruz 2002, p. 85.

  3. 3.

    Barnard 2010, p. 25.

  4. 4.

    Case 2/74 Reyners v Belgium [1974] ECR 631, para. 21.

  5. 5.

    Advocate General Jacobs Opinion in Case C-76/90 Säger [1991] ECLI:EU:C:1991:72, para. 25–6.

  6. 6.

    Case C-55/94 Gebhard [1995] ECR I-04165, para. 27.

  7. 7.

    Case C-55/94 Gebhard [1995] ECR I-04165, para. 27; Case C-215/01 Schnitzer [2003] ECR I-14847, para. 28.

  8. 8.

    See Barnard (2010: 479 et seq.) with further references.

  9. 9.

    Case C-288/89 Gouda [1991] ECR I-4007, para. 12–15.

  10. 10.

    Case 52/79 Debauve [1981] ECR 833, para. 16 [services]; Case 221/85 Commission v Belgium [1987] ECR 719, para. 10–12.

  11. 11.

    On the contrary, non-discriminatory measures which do not substantially hinder access, or the effect of which on free movement is too remote, fall outside the market freedoms: see Case C-212/06 Walloon Government [2008] ECR I-1683, para. 51 [workers and establishment].

  12. 12.

    Case C-76/90 Säger [1991] ECR I-4421, para. 15; see also Case C-384/93 Alpine Investments [1995] ECR I-01141, para. 38 and 40–45; Case C-275/92 Schindler [1994] ECR I-1039, para. 43 and 58 [services]; Case C-19/92 Kraus [1993] ECR I-1663, para. 32, and Case C-55/94 Gebhard [1995] ECR I-4165, para. 35-38 [establishment].

  13. 13.

    See especially the broad formulation in Case C-55/94 Gebhard [1995] ECR I-4565, para. 37.

  14. 14.

    De Vries & Van Mastrigt (2013: 251).

  15. 15.

    Case C-2/74 Reyners [1974] ECR 631, para. 32.

  16. 16.

    Case C-33/74 Van Binsbergen [1974] ECR 1299, para. 27.

  17. 17.

    On these concepts, see generally De Witte 2011; for the direct effect of Directives, a synthesis in Figueroa Regueiro 2002.

  18. 18.

    Karayigit 2011, p. 307–308.

  19. 19.

    These forms of direct effect can be regarded as equivalent to what has been called “broad” and “narrow” concept of direct effect, respectively, by Craig & De Búrca 2011, p. 188 et seq., 198.

  20. 20.

    Case 26/62 Van Gend en Loos [1963] ECR 1.

  21. 21.

    Karayigit 2011, p. 305.

  22. 22.

    Baquero Cruz 1999, p. 605.

  23. 23.

    Yet the terminology used by legal literature and case law is not univocal: see Hartkamp 2013.

  24. 24.

    Karayigit 2011, p. 321.

  25. 25.

    Lohse 2007.

  26. 26.

    Leitão Marques & Bettencourt Nunes 2015, p. 104–105.

  27. 27.

    Directive 2014/24/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 February 2014 on public procurement; Directive 2014/25/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 February 2014 on procurement by entities operating in the water, energy, transport and postal services sectors; Directive 2014/23/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 February 2014 on the award of concession contracts.

  28. 28.

    Directive 2006/123/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of December 12, 2006 on services on the internal market.

  29. 29.

    On these objectives, for public procurement directives see Case C-243/89 Commission v Denmark [1993] ECR I-3353, para. 33. For the Services Directive see the Recital 62 in its Preamble, referring explicitly to the creation of “free and open competition” in case of limited authorisation schemes.

  30. 30.

    For many, see Case 5/77 Carlo Tedeschi v Denkavit [1977] ECR 1555, para. 35.

  31. 31.

    Wollenschläger 2015, p. 211.

  32. 32.

    Wolswinkel 2009, p. 63–66.

  33. 33.

    Leitão Marques & Bettencourt Nunes 2015, p. 110–111.

  34. 34.

    The CJEU has adopted a quite generous approach to this cross-border requirement: for many, see Case C-231/03 Coname [2005] ECR I-7287, paras. 17–20.

  35. 35.

    Wolswinkel 2009, 2015; Wollenschläger 2015.

  36. 36.

    Wollenschläger 2015, p. 210–211.

  37. 37.

    See among others Case C-324/98 Telaustria [2000] ECR I-10745; Case C-458/03 Parking Brixen [2005] ECR I-8585; Case C-410/04 ANAV [2006] ECR I-3303; Case C-454/06 Pressetext Nachrichtenagentur [2008] ECR I-4401; Case C-91/98 Wall [2010] E.C.R. I-2815; Case C-221/12 Belgacom [2013] ECLI:EU:C:2013:736; Case C-336/12 Manova [2013] ECLI:EU:C:2013:647.

  38. 38.

    See among others Joined Cases C-570/07 and C-571/07 Blanco Pérez and Chao Gómez [2010] ECR I-4629, para. 55–61; Case C-203/08 Sporting Exchange [2010] ECR I-4695; Case C-64/08 Engelmann [2010] ECR I-8219; Case C-470/11 SIA Garkalns [2012] ECLI:EU:C:2012:505.

  39. 39.

    Exclusive or special rights [Article 106(1) TFEU] are always present in markets where the number of operators is limited in number, in so far as they are defined as rights limiting the exercise of an activity to one economic operator (“exclusive”) or two or more economic operators (“special”), thus creating market situations of monopoly and oligopoly respectively. On this, see Wolswinkel 2015, p. 139–140; Skovgaard Ølykke 2014, p. 4 et seq.; Szydlo 2011, p. 1408 et seq.

  40. 40.

    See for example the objectives of protecting consumers, preventing fraud and squandering money on gambling as well as combating crime as reason enough to justify the limitation of the number of gambling providers in Joined Cases C-338/04, C-359/04 and C-360/04 Placanica [2007] ECR I-1891, para. 52 et seq., and Case C-42/07 Liga Portuguesa [2009] ECR I-07633, para. 72.

  41. 41.

    Wollenschläger 2015, p. 217–218; Wolswinkel 2015, p. 150.

  42. 42.

    For public contracts, see Case C-454/06 Pressetext Nachrichtenagentur [2008] ECR I-4401, para. 73–74; for concessions, see Case C-451/08 Helmut Müller [2010] ECR I-2673, para. 79.

  43. 43.

    See for example Case C-324/98 Telaustria [2000] ECR I-10745, para. 60–62.

  44. 44.

    Case C-324/98 Telaustria [2000] ECR I-10745, para. 62; Case C-231/03 Coname [2005] ECR I-7287, para. 21; Case C-458/03 Parking Brixen [2005] ECR I-8585, para. 49; Case C-203/08 Sporting Exchange [2010] ECR I-4695, para. 55; Joined Cases C-72/10 and C-77/10 Costa and Cifone [2012] ECLI:EU:C:2012:80, para. 55; Case C-221/12 Belgacom [2013] ECLI:EU:C:2013:736, para. 33.

  45. 45.

    Case C-108/98 RI.SAN [1999] ECR I-5219, para. 20; Case C-380/05 Centro Europa 7 Srl [2008] ECR I-349, para. 99 et seq. On this, see Szydlo 2011, p. 1425 et seq.

  46. 46.

    Wollenschläger 2015, p. 218.

  47. 47.

    Case C-380/05 Centro Europa 7 Srl [2008] ECR I-349, para. 103 et seq.; Case C-203/08 Sporting Exchange [2010] ECR I-4695, para. 51; Case C-643/13 Stanley International Betting Ltd [2015] ECLI:EU:C:2015:25, para. 38.

  48. 48.

    Joined Cases C-72/10 and C-77/10 Costa and Cifone [2012] ECLI:EU:C:2012:80, para. 73. See also Case C-496/99 Succhi di Frutta [2004] ECR I-3801, para. 111; Case C-250/06 United Pan-Europe Communications Belgium and others [2007] ECR I-11135, para. 45–46.

  49. 49.

    Case C-496/99 Succhi di Frutta [2004] ECR I-3801, para. 115.

  50. 50.

    Case C-448/01 EVN and Wienstrom [2003] ECR I-14527, para. 93.

  51. 51.

    Case C-496/99 Succhi di Frutta [2004] ECR I-3801, para. 117-119; Case C-454/06 Pressetext Nachrichtenagentur [2008] ECR I-4401, para. 34–37.

  52. 52.

    Case C-91/98 Wall [2010] ECR I-2815, para. 38.

  53. 53.

    Case C-203/08 Sporting Exchange [2010] ECR I-4695, para 54. On this, see Wolswinkel 2015, p. 160–161.

  54. 54.

    Case C-340/89 Vlassopoulou [1991] ECR I-2357, para. 22. On this, Wollenschläger 2010, 2016, and Díez Sastre 2015.

  55. 55.

    For many, see Case C-64/08 Engelmann [2010] ECR I-8219, para. 55.

  56. 56.

    Case C-432/05 Unibet [2007] ECR I-2271, para. 36 et seq.; Case C-91/08 Wall AG [2010] ECR I-2815, para. 61 et seq.

  57. 57.

    Joined cases C-72/10 and C-77/10 Costa and Cifone [2012] ECLI:EU:C:2012:90, para. 52; Case C-463/13 Stanley International Betting Ltd [2015] ECLI:EU:C:2015:25, para. 34 et seq.

  58. 58.

    See the enshrinement of this kind of third-party effect (mittelbare Drittwirkung) of constitutional rights in Germany by the German Constitutional Federal Court in the Lüth case (BVerfGE 7, 198. I. Senate).

  59. 59.

    Craig & De Búrca 2011, p. 180, 200.

  60. 60.

    Baquero Cruz 1999, p. 605; Caro de Sousa 2013, p. 482.

  61. 61.

    On this, see Hartkamp 2013. It must be noted that the expression “horizontal effect” has not yet been used by the Court itself.

  62. 62.

    For all, see Craig & De Búrca 2011, p. 180.

  63. 63.

    This is thus comparable to the so-called Shutzpflicht theory within German law: for all, see Alexy 1994, p. 410 et seq.

  64. 64.

    See Case C-265/95 Commission v France [1997] ECR I-6959, para. 31–32, and Case C-112/00 Schmidberger [2003] ECR I-5659, para. 59 (both on the free movement of goods).

  65. 65.

    Karayigit 2011, p. 305.

  66. 66.

    Case C-265/95 Commission v France [1997] ECR I-6959, para. 33; Case C-112/00 Schmidberger [2003] ECR I-5659, para. 81–82.

  67. 67.

    Baquero Cruz 1999, p. 611.

  68. 68.

    De Witte 2011, p. 335.

  69. 69.

    Caro de Sousa 2013, p. 479.

  70. 70.

    Opinion of Advocate General Maduro in Case C-438/05 Viking [2007] ECR I-10779, para. 39–40.

  71. 71.

    The academic literature has profusely engaged with this topic. For a recent and comprehensive survey of the state of play, see De Vries & Van Mastrigt 2013, with further references.

  72. 72.

    Case 36/74 Walrave and Koch [1974] ECR 1405, para. 17 (on rules adopted by an association governed by private law, the Union Cycliste Internationale). Similarly, Case 13/76 Gaetano Donà [1976] ECR 1333, para. 17–19 (concerning rules adopted by a private sporting organization).

  73. 73.

    Case 90/76 Van Ameyde v UCI [1977] ECR 1091, para. 28 (concerning rules and practices attributable to a private insurance bureau).

  74. 74.

    Joined Cases C-51/96 and C-191/97 Christelle Deliège [2000] ECR I-2549, para. 60 (concerning rules of a judo sport association); Case C-519/04 David Meca-Medina [2006] ECR I-6991, paras. 28–29 (on anti-doping rules adopted by an international sport federation).

  75. 75.

    Case C-309/99 Wouters [2002] ECR I-1577, para. 120, examining rules adopted by an organ of the Bar of the Netherlands.

  76. 76.

    Case 251/83 Eberhard Haug-Adrion [1984] ECR 4277, para. 12–18.

  77. 77.

    Joined Cases C-403/08 and C-429/08 Premier League [2011] ECR I- 09083, para. 85–89.

  78. 78.

    Case C-438/05 Viking [2007] ECR I-10779, para. 72; Case C-341/05 Laval [2007] ECR I-11767, para. 99.

  79. 79.

    Snell 2002, p. 226.

  80. 80.

    In this sense, among others, Baquero Cruz 1999, p. 618; Prechal & De Vries 2009, p. 18; Schepel 2012, p. 183 et seq.; De Vries & Van Mastrigt 2013, p. 259–260.

  81. 81.

    Case C-411/98 Ferlini [2000] ECR I-8081, para. 50 (emphasis added). Going beyond the non-discrimination approach, Advocate General Maduro’s Opinion (para. 3) in Case C-438/05 Viking.

  82. 82.

    It is keeping this rationale in mind how horizontal effect of Articles 49 and 56 TFEU can be explained either as “carefully circumscribed exceptions to the general rule that free movement law only binds Member States” (Schepel 2012, p. 179) or as “a theory of extended vertical effect” for private state-like measures (Barnard 2008, p. 472).

  83. 83.

    Van den Bogaert 2002, p. 125.

  84. 84.

    Case 36/74 Walrave [1974] ECR 0145, para. 20 (for services).

  85. 85.

    Case 13/76 Gaetano Donà [1976] ECR 01333, para. 18 (services and establishment).

  86. 86.

    Case 36/74 Walrave [1974] ECR 0145, para. 18; Joined Cases C-51/96 and C-191/97 Deliège [2000] ECR I-02549, para. 47; Case C-341/05 Laval [2007] ECR I-11767, para. 98.

  87. 87.

    Baquero Cruz 1999, p. 617; Snell 2002, p. 234; Karayigit 2011, p. 320. See also Case 36/74 Walrave [1974] ECR 0145, para. 19.

  88. 88.

    Baquero Cruz 1999, p. 604.

  89. 89.

    For allocation rules stemming from other provisions of EU primary law, see Adriaanse et al. (2016).

  90. 90.

    Bauer 1992, p. 301 et seq.

  91. 91.

    Bauer 1992, p. 301 et seq.

  92. 92.

    On such functions, for all, see Schmidt-Aβmann 2004, p. 3 et seq.

  93. 93.

    Schmidt-Preuβ 1992, p. 1 et seq.

  94. 94.

    For other kinds of multilateral administrative law relationships, see Schmidt-Preuβ 1992, p. 1 et seq.

  95. 95.

    Starting in Germany: for many, see Berg 1976, Kupfer 2005, Malaviya 2009, Fuchs 2009 and Wollenschläger 2010. The issue was subsequently added to the research agenda in The Netherlands (see Van Ommeren 2004; Van Ommeren et al 2011) and in Spain [see Arroyo & Utrilla 2015]. From the exclusive perspective of EU law, among others, Szydlo 2011, Wollenschläger 2015, Wolswinkel 2015, and Adriaanse et al 2016.

  96. 96.

    Wollenschläger 2015, p. 254–256.

  97. 97.

    On such trend, see the early studies by Baquero Cruz 1999 and 2002; Mortelmans 2001.

  98. 98.

    Case C-519/04 Meca-Medina [2006] ECR I-06991; Joined Cases C-403/08 and C-429/08 Premier League [2011] ECR I-09083.

  99. 99.

    O’Keeffe & Bavasso 2000, p. 544.

  100. 100.

    Leitão Marques & Bettencourt Nunes 2015, p. 104–105.

  101. 101.

    In these cases, regulation of the public procedure for the allocation of the limited market-access rights appears as the sole way to guarantee some level of competition, even if it is a competition for (and not within) the market. See Leitão Marques & Bettencourt Nunes 2015, p. 108.

  102. 102.

    Baquero Cruz 1999, p. 603, and 2002, p. 108; Snell 2002, p. 228 et seq.; Karayigit 2011, p. 320.

  103. 103.

    The horizontal effect of the free movement of workers seems to have been recognized in respect of any kind of private measure, at least concerning the prohibition of discrimination: see e.g. Case C-281/98 Roman Angonese [2000] ECR I-04139, para. 39–36.

  104. 104.

    See Case C-265/95 Commission v France [1997] ECR I-6959, para. 31–32, and Case C-112/00 Schmidberger [2003] ECR I-5659, para. 59. However, recent case law casts doubt on the apparently well-established absence of horizontal direct effect of Article 34 TFEU: so for example in Case C-171/11, Fra.bo [2012] ECLI:EU:C:2012:453, para. 32.

  105. 105.

    De Vries & Van Mastrigt 2013, p. 257; Baquero Cruz 2002, p. 123.

  106. 106.

    On this, Caro de Sousa (2013).

  107. 107.

    In both cases the ultimate review is for the CJEU.

  108. 108.

    De Vries and Van Mastrigt 2013, p. 272.

  109. 109.

    On this, Van der Walt 2014, p. 334 et seq.

  110. 110.

    Case C-441/14 Dansk Industri [2016] ECLI:EU:C:2016:278), where the CJEU has declared that the general principle of non-discrimination (which on its part remains the cornerstone of free movement law) enjoys horizontal direct effect between individuals.

  111. 111.

    Decision of the Danish Supreme Court 15/2014 of 6 December 2016.

  112. 112.

    Oliver & Roth 2004, p. 427.

  113. 113.

    Kingreen 2006, p. 548.

  114. 114.

    Pires & Adolfo 2015, p. 177.

  115. 115.

    Prechal & De Vries 2009, p. 18.

  116. 116.

    Cherednychenko 2006, p. 41–42.

  117. 117.

    Schepel 2012, p. 197.

  118. 118.

    Case C-36/02 Omega [2004] ECR I-9609, para. 35–36; Case C-112/00 Schmidberger [2003] ECR I-5659, para. 81; C-438/05 Viking [2007] ECR I-10779, para. 46; Case C-341/05 Laval [2007] ECR I-11767, para. 94.

  119. 119.

    Frenz 2002, p. 605.

  120. 120.

    One may wonder if the horizontal broadening of the free movement provisions “will inevitable put pressure on the Court to expand this justification regime” (Schepel 2012, p. 196). To date, however, the CJEU seems to have ignored the recurring argument that the justification regime of the Treaty is not tailored to apply to private parties; see for example Case C-415/93 Bosman [1995] ECR I-4921, para. 86.

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Correspondence to Dolores Utrilla Fernández-Bermejo.

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Utrilla Fernández-Bermejo, D. Market freedoms and private interactions under EU law. China-EU Law J 6, 141–162 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12689-018-0083-9

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Keywords

  • Market freedoms
  • Interactions
  • Freedom of establishment
  • Freedom of services
  • Horizontality
  • Allocation of scarce rights